About the Project
Recent developments at UC by Huber have made it possible to 3D print cellulose and cellulose derivatives. The cellulose ink is typically made via a dissolution-gelation process and is subsequently 3D printed using a bioplotter to create complex, 3D shapes based on cellulose. 3D structural designs that were previously impossible to manufacture from cellulose are able to be printed using a solvent exchange and freeze-drying process that also preserves the porous structure of the cellulose gel precursor. The resulting cellulose-based bio-aerogels are highly microporous, while simultaneously having a complex 3D macroscale form.
The morphology and properties of cellulose bio-aerogels depend on the processing conditions and cellulose type. Together with possibilities to chemically and/or physically modify the base polymer, a wide variety of aerogel properties and applications is possible. The project will aim to fully characterise 3D-printed cellulose bio-aerogels in order to develop a strong understanding of the relationship between processing-printing conditions and physio-chemical properties, while exploring potential end uses that add value to product development (e.g. enhanced sustainability, eco-friendliness, material texture and/or haptic design).
The project aims to ideate a wide range of novel ways to use the material in product design based on the properties of the cellulose-based bio-aerogels. Gathered data will allow us to assess the feasibility of developed ideas, and to identify those ideas that have potential to be developed into prototypes. Prototypes will be manufactured and tested for their physio-chemical properties and consumer reception to find the most suitable product for commercialisation.
Interested applicants with a strong academic background and engineering degree, background knowledge of 3D printing, biopolymers and/or material characterisation, and strong interest in product design and development, are encouraged to apply.
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